Test: The Specialized Diverge is entering its sixth year in 2020 and has lost none of its original fascination as an adventure and gravel bike. The top model Diverge Expert we tested impresses with outstanding comfort, also thanks to the Future Shock System.
Specialized Diverge Expert 2020: The Facts
Frame material: Carbon
Wheel size(s): 700cc (650b compatible)
Maximum tire clearance: 42mm / 47mm (650b)
Axle dimensions (v/h): 12 × 100/142 × 12
Mudguard Eyelets: Ja
Luggage carrier eyelets (v/h): Yes / Yes (can be retrofitted)
bottle holder: Down tube up, down tube down, seat tube
Weight wheels v/h/total (with tires and brake discs): 1.430g / 1.546g / 2.976g
Weight complete bike without pedals (size M): 8,38kg
Price: € 4.799
Proven concept with modern technology
In 2014, the American bicycle giant Specialized presented its answer to the burgeoning gravel and adventure boom in the USA with the then new Diverge. The bike, which was strongly inspired by the Roubaix endurance bike, brought a touch more comfort and, above all, significantly better accessory compatibility. Six years later, the Diverge is still an integral part of the Specialized product portfolio, but has probably gained in importance: Gravel has developed from a marginal phenomenon to one of the biggest trends in the industry at the moment and the Diverge has also made some leaps in development.
Comfort was already the focus of the 'Ur-Diverge' and that hasn't changed to this day, even if the technical implementation is different today. The Zertz inserts in the fork are passé, instead Specialized relies on its Future Shock System between the stem and the head tube. This was introduced in 2016 at the Roubaix and a year later the Diverge followed. To put it very simply, there is a resilient insert between the underside of the stem and the head tube, which offers a maximum of 20mm of travel and absorbs vibrations and impacts. Compared to classic suspension forks, this design is said to be significantly more efficient and, in particular, to be associated with less additional weight.
More on how the Specialized Future Shock System works
When it came to comfort, however, the approach at the rear or bottom endured: The CG-R post with integrated elastomer worked well in 2014 and of course that still applies today, even though it is no longer as unique as it was six years ago.
S-Works variant only as a frame set
The Diverge is available in 2020 with aluminum and carbon frames. All carbon frames of the complete bikes are made of the FACT 9r fiber, the even lighter FACT 11r variant is only available with the S-Works frame set. What they all have in common is the wide range of mounting options for accessories. fenders? Check! rear rack? Check! front rack? Check! In addition, the in-house SWAT box can be used in the frame triangle, which offers additional storage space without blocking the attachment of classic top tube bags or similar. The large tire clearance is also very nice: 42mm with classic 700c tires and even 47mm if you want to ride smaller 650b wheels.
With regard to the geometry, Specialized speaks of "open road" - they still orientate themselves on the Roubaix endurance bike, but tweak a few adjustments to improve the off-road capability and smoothness in particular. Although the steering angle is about 1° slacker than the Roubaix, it is still rather steep compared to the Gravel average. The chainstays are not overly short at just over 420mm, which should help straight-line stability and keep the bike on course on rough passages. The rather low bottom bracket is striking, which roadies in particular should be happy with.
Geometry Specialized Diverge Expert 2020
|seat tube (in mm)
|Top tube horizontal (in mm)
|head tube (in mm)
|chainstay (in mm)
|Wheelbase (in mm)
|Steering angle (in °)
|Seat angle (in °)
|Stacks (in mm)
Successful equipment with very light wheelset
Among the complete bikes for 2020, the Diverge Expert we tested is the top model for 4.799 euros. The S-Works variant located above it is only available as a frame set in this country. Weighing just under 8,4kg, the Diverge Expert is one of the lightest bikes in our test - the frame and the high-quality equipment undoubtedly play a part in this.
When it comes to the drive, Specialized remains true to their compatriots from Sram and equips the Diverge top model with the corresponding top Force 1 group. A good choice, the STIs take some getting used to visually, but ergonomically they are very good. The rear derailleur has damping that reduces chain slaps or even drops to an absolute minimum off-road. The 10-42 cassette has a range of 420% and thus almost always has a suitable gear ready, although it is beaten on this point by the Sram 12-speed drives (500%) or the GRX 2-speed (479%).
|Specialized FACT 9r Carbon
|Specialized Fact carbon
|Roval C38 Disc
|Specialized Pathfinder Pro 38mm
|Ram Force 1
|Practice Works Zayante carbon
|Specialized Power Expert
|Specialized Future Stem
|Specialized Adventure Gear Hovers
Specialized's own brand Roval now stands for high-quality wheels in a wide range of price ranges and has successfully managed to emancipate itself from the prejudice against OEM parts. The Diverge Expert stands on Roval C38 Disc carbon wheels with 38mm high rims, which are also ideal for wider tires thanks to the 21mm inner width. The inner workings of the hubs are similar to that of the tried and tested DT Swiss 350, along with their durable toothed disc freewheel. Of course, the high-quality rims are tubeless-ready, which also applies to the installed Specialized Pathfinder Pro tires. The latter certainly stand out from the crowd and the little profiled center strip promises low rolling resistance, while the indicated side knobs should provide traction when cornering. The entire wheel system, including the mentioned tires with a width of 38mm and the brake discs, weighs 2.976g and is one of the few representatives in the test to break the 3kg mark.
We briefly outlined the advantages of the built-in CG-R post at the beginning – a Power Expert saddle is mounted on it, which is a real blessing with its short nose and has led to a rethink for us since its introduction. A special feature worth mentioning is the handlebar: The Adventure Gear Hover is quite compact and has a moderate 12° flare, but it is mainly due to its rise that it stands out. This looks a bit strange, but should provide even more comfort on long journeys.
More tests, products and background information about the Velomotion Gravel Month:
- Storck Grix Platinum Ultegra Di2 gravel bike in test: Race tourer for gravel and off-road
- GT Grade Carbon Pro in the gravel bike test: Comfortable triangle for lots of driving fun?!
- Orbea Terra M30-D in the gravel bike test: Lively bike for training and gravel tours
- NS Bikes Rag+ 2 in the gravel bike test: Convincing aluminum all-rounder
- Rondo Ruut CF 2 in the gravel bike test: Fast gravel bike with a striking look
Let's Gravel: The Specialized Diverge Expert 2020
At first glance, we didn't know exactly what to think of the Specialized Diverge Expert. Because on the one hand, first-class driving characteristics can be assumed from the high-quality frame, the in-house attachments and wheels from Roval, as well as the Sram groupset. However, the look takes some getting used to. On the one hand, this is due to the Future-Shock system, which ensures quite a lot of space between the stem and the head tube, the Drop Bar handlebars with rise and the strong slope, which makes it necessary to extend the seatpost quite far.
But if you get to the bottom of the matter, it quickly becomes clear that all this has a purpose. While the look of the Future Shock System is certainly debatable, the advantages are clearly noticeable in practice: Especially after several hours of driving, the Future Shock System was particularly noticeable in the forearm/hand area, as these areas did not tire as quickly/strongly. Of course, you shouldn't expect miracles and it's still a long way from the performance of a real suspension fork - but that's part of the concept and also a reason why very little energy is lost even when pedaling out of the saddle. In combination with the S-Works CG-R post you get first-class driving comfort - only a few competitors can keep up.
Due to the sporty frame geometry with the low bottom bracket and short rear end, the agility of the Specialized Diverge Expert is not neglected despite the high level of comfort. On the contrary - in addition to good comfort, the Diverge also shows an appealing acceleration and a particularly agile driving style, which is particularly noticeable on technical terrain. The low bottom bracket also gives you a slightly lower center of gravity, which ensures good cornering even on gravel. At the same time, the good rigidity values of the carbon frame ensure successful power transmission, which not only benefits us when accelerating, but also on longer distances and asphalt. However, the overall quite high front does not quite fit in, which noticeably softens this sporty character and, in our opinion, slows down the Diverge a bit.
We were quite satisfied with the built-in Sram Force group, as it shifts precisely and crisply as usual, especially off-road - the somewhat limited range is not dramatic, but potential buyers should keep this in mind, especially if long gravel climbs are regularly on the agenda stand. The high-quality Praxisworks crank also adapts well to the overall picture. With the in-house Specialized Pathfinder Pro gravel tires you have a consistently solid all-rounder, which rolls well on the road and offers a good compromise between grip and comfort on gravel. If it gets wet, however, it quickly reaches its limits.
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